ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Five members of Antigonish-based Xavier Taekwondo Club are heading to the Motor City for the Michigan-Midwest Taekwondo Championships, Dec. 1.
The actual site is Warren, Michigan, which is Metro Detroit’s largest suburb, and the international competition is expected to include 500 competitors from the U.S., Canada and other nations.
“We attended in 2015 with three athletes and came home with a silver and bronze,” Jeremy Reeve, club coach, said.
“We competed against national champions from the U.S., Costa Rica and Canada, and are expecting the same caliber again this year. It [the tournament] draws mostly black belts from across the U.S. and Canada … of all ages.”
Reeve said Xavier athletes chose the competition because it provides ideal preparation for the 2019 National Championships, which take place in Quebec Jan. 10 to 13.
“This is a stepping-stone for the nationals,” he said, agreeing it’s a “quick turnaround” for the athletes traveling to Michigan.
“We don’t have this level of competition in Atlantic Canada, so we have to travel,” Reeve said.
“We also chose this event because it is a double elimination event meaning, if the athlete loses a match, they still have a chance to medal because they need to lose two matches before being eliminated.
“And everyone will see new opponents at the event; we’re traveling so we’re not always competing against the same competitors,” he added.
Amongst those making the trip is Cole Allen whom Reeve described as Xavier’s “most experienced competitor” of the five.
Allen will compete in the 12-14 year-old, -49 kg division, as well as in the 15-17 year-old, -48kg division.
“He has been to the nationals twice and one international event last September,” Reeve said of Allen’s experience.
Both athlete and coach noted being aggressive as a key to his success.
“When I attack, I do well,” Allen said.
“Cole is unpredictable when he attacks,” Reeve added.
Also fighting at the Michigan competition are athletes; Ewan MacDuff (15-17 year-old, -59 kg division), Keira MacDuff (12-14 year-old, -55 kg division), Leah Grant (-49 kg division) and Rebekeah Pitts (-52 kg division).
Grant has been involved in taekwondo for about 11 years, eight of those as a competitor. The MacDuffs each have six years of experience in the sport, while Reeve described Pitts as the “rookie on the team,” with three years of experience and about to attend her second high performance competition.
“I’m looking forward to gaining more experience,” Grant said, a sentiment shared by her teammates.
“I’ll be fighting outside of the country for the first time, that will be fun,” Ewan said, while also noting the value of seeing different styles of fighting from unfamiliar opponents.
“I’m excited to be fighting outside of Canada,” Keira said.
“Just getting to compete at such a high level and having new competitors,” Pitts said.
For more on the Xavier Taekwondo Club, visit their website xaviertaekwondo.com or Facebook page.